Category: Pest Control

Bed Bugs Control Techniques

Don’t let the bed bugs bite

Question: If you put on “Off” or some other insect repellant before retiring in a hotel will this prevent them from biting? Can they get in your hair? –Dolores Hill, Bessemer, Ala.

Answer: Although we have not specifically tested mosquito repellants on bed bugs, we have tested repellant insecticides. Bed bugs do not seem to respond in the slightest to repellent insecticides. In fact, they will sit on top of them until they die. These results have been confirmed by the older bed bug literature (Usinger 1966) who stated that many repellant materials were applied to bed frames in an attempt to keep bed bugs from crawling up, but none had any effect. Because we have not tested repellants on skin, we can’t say for sure whether bed bugs would be willing to stick their mouth parts though repellant treated skin or not. But we have found bed bugs to be very determined little creatures and I think it would be hard to stop a hungry bed bug. In addition, the repellants that you buy for mosquitoes last only a couple of hours before the effects begin to wear off.  If you apply a repellant before getting into bed, a lot of the material could rub off on the sheets etc.  Also, bed bugs are most active between 3 and 5 am, which is several hours after the time you would have put the on the repellant to go to bed.  Bottom line, a repellant may prevent you from getting a bite or two but I do not believe that they will significantly hinder a hungry bed bug.

Question: Would the silk “sleep sacks” sold as a travel accessory be any help at all against bed bug bites at a hotel? –L Hart , Irvine, Calif.

Answer: Unlikely. Bed bugs can very probably feed directly through the weave of the “sleep sack.” Even if the bag were to offer some protection, the bed bugs could crawl to the opening of the sack and enter that way. The best defense is to inspect the bed (mattress and sheets) and the head board for signs of bed bugs.  If you find any, report this to the management and request a different room.

Question: When traveling I carry a can of Lysol spray and spray the bed with it. Is this helpful in getting rid of bed bugs?  –Ennis, Tex.

Answer: The only way that Lysol spray could help you is if you sprayed the bugs directly.  The alcohols and propellants would probably kill bed bugs if you wetted them down with the material.  However, dried spray on or around the bed would have no effect.

Question: Are the pesticide companies trying to develop an effective bed bug spray? –Diana Shea, Descanso, Calif.

Answer: This is an excellent question.  All pesticides that are labeled for use in the United States have to be registered by the EPA.  To get an EPA registration, the pesticide product has to be thoroughly tested for acute and chronic effects on mammals (laboratory rats and dogs), the potential effects on birds, fish, and honeybees has to be documented, and the environmental fate (half-life) of these products in water or soil also must be quantified.  The cost of having a product registered is now estimated to be around $ 100 million.  This cost naturally limits the number of products that make it to the marketplace.  In addition, there has been a 10 to 15 year trend in reducing the number of pesticide products that receive registration for use in the indoor environment.  In short, it is very hard to get new pesticides registered that are labeled for indoor use (as opposed to agricultural use).

Question: Why is it that I get bit but my husband does not? –Denise, Indian Trail, N.C.

Answer: Bed bugs tend to aggregate together when they are resting.  It is possible that you are on the “bed bug side” of the bed. Bed bugs don’t switch back and forth from one host to another so if they find you first, you may be the only one bitten.  It is also possible that your husband is getting bitten but does not have a significant reaction to the bed bug bites.

 

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are insects that feed on blood and can survive months without feeding. Their bites are often itchy, and sometimes painful. Bed bugs are a growing problem everywhere. By spraying for insects less often, and using less dangerous chemicals when we do spray, our homes are safer for our families but also less toxic for bed bugs

Bed bugs are hitchhikers. They travel by hiding in luggage, clothing, beds or furniture. This can make bed bugs a special problem for hotels, apartments, and when using second-hand furniture. Once bed bugs are introduced, they spread from room to room throughout a building. Keeping a clean home can limit cockroach and rodent problems, but will have little effect on bed bugs.

Symptoms

People sensitive to bites can have a raised, red swelling at each bite site or may develop a sensitivity that can include nervousness, and sleeplessness. Symptoms may also appear several days after being bitten. Bed bugs’ feces, casings, and other materials can be asthma triggers in some people. Although bed bugs feed on blood, there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit disease.

Identification

Bed bugs vary in size, and in color, from a red-brown to a light brown. Adult bed bugs are 1/4 inch, or about the width of a pencil.

Bed bugs move quickly. The females lay eggs in cracks and other hidden areas. The eggs appear tiny, white, and are hard to see without a magnifying glass. Bed bugs are active at night and hide within 5 to 20 feet of where people sleep. They tend to gather in tiny crevices and other places, especially in mattresses, box springs, and head-boards.

 

Guidelines for killing bed bugs in laundry

The nice thing about an emergency pest problem, like the current bed bug epidemic, is that such problems attract a lot of attention from the research community.

Knowing how to dis-infest clothing is important to pest control, because, as the authors so carefully explain, bedbugs “may seek harborage among clothing stored close to the bed, or may be entangled with bed linen while it is being changed. ”  And, “once associated with clothing or linen, there is a risk that bed bugs may then escape insecticide treatments, and may be transported to new locations.”

To do this they took laboratory reared bed bugs and sealed them in cotton bags.  These bags were then placed among sheets or in the pockets of clothing to assess mortality of standard cleaning methods.   The results were enlightening and should help in recommendations for how your customers can ensure maximum effectiveness of methods to disinfest household articles.

A summary of the results of this study include the following:

Freezing can kill bed bugs.  Reducing temperatures to -17 degrees C (0 degrees F) for 2 hours will kill all bed bug life stages (about the temperature of a chest freezer, not a refrigerator freezer).  A 5.5 lb batch of clothes, however, does not drop to 0 degrees F immediately.  The researchers found that it took about 8 hours for the temperature in the center of that wad of clothes to killing temperature.  Upshot?  Put clothes in freezer for at least 10-12 hours.

Bed bugs are also susceptible to high temperatures of 40-50 degrees C (104-122 degrees F).  In order to reach these temperatures, clothing to be dis-infested can be placed in a large tumble drier at the HOT setting for at least 30 minutes (for a 7.7 lb load).  A 10 minute HOT tumble dry only killed about 75% of nymphal bed bugs, 85% of adults.  Interestingly, the COOL cycle killed almost no bed bugs.

Soaking clothes in cold water for 24 hours (without detergent) killed all adults and nymphs, but killed no eggs. Unfortunately, the researchers did not test whether soaking clothes in cold soapy water for 24 hours would kill eggs.  This alternative treatment might be useful, especially for cleaning clothes that are labeled for cool wash and dry only.

Dry cleaning killed all life stages of bed bugs, and would be an appropriate treatment for delicate and temperature sensitive fabrics.

When washing clothes, wash water at 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) on 30 minute wash cycles killed 100% of all life stages.  Washing at 40 degrees C (100 degrees F) killed all adults and nymphs, but only 25% of eggs.  So clearly, washing clothes for bed bug dis-infestation should be done at the hottest temperatures (about 140 degrees F).

Experience with many pests verifies the wisdom of using multiple control tactics to control pests–a basic tenet of IPM.  Certainly bed bugs are no exception.  Reducing clutter, systematic inspection and treatment of the bedroom and other infested rooms, trapping and ongoing monitoring, and effective treatment of all exposed household articles, including clothing, are all essential components of good bed bug control

 

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects in the family Cimicidae. Both nymphs and adults feed on sleeping or sedentary humans, mostly at night, a time when this pest’s stealthy habits are difficult to observe.

The growth and development of C. lectularius is optimal when it feeds on humans; however, this insect also feeds on other species of mammals and on birds found near the home including chickens, mice, rats, and rabbits. Bat bugs and swallow bugs, close relatives of bed bugs, may also be found in and around human dwellings and may sometimes bite humans, although their preferred hosts are bats and birds, respectively

IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE

Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless, about 1/5 inch long, and rusty red or mahogany. Their bodies are flattened, they have well-developed antennae, their compound eyes are small, and the area behind the head (the pronotum) expands forward on either side of the head, bearing many small hairs. The immatures, called nymphs, appear identical to the adults except for their smaller size (1/20 –1/5 inch), thinner outer skeleton (cuticle), and lighter yellowish-white color.

Bed bugs are readily distinguished from another common blood-sucking species, conenose bugs (also known as kissing bugs), by their smaller size, more rounded shape, and lack of wings as adults

Bed bugs can be distinguished from their close relatives bat bugs and swallow bugs by comparing the length of the hairs on the pronotum to the diameter of the eye; this requires a hand lens or microscope. These hairs are shorter than the diameter of the eye on a bed bug and longer than the diameter of the eye on bat bugs and swallow bugs

 

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite

The number of strange presenting complaints we encounter every day in our practice surely must have given us the insight to look beyond the tunnel vision we have. It’s something I’ve certainly learnt from the following experience.

Within a day of returning, I started developing a very itchy urticarial rash all over my body.

I proceeded to take a cocktail of antihistamines, topical creams etc, but things didn’t get better. In fact they got worse. I wasn’t sleeping at night because of the itching and started to miss work because the rash was so severe.

He thought it was an urticarial rash and told me to change my washing powder, go organic and generally try to find what was I reacting to. I convinced him to give me a course of steroids while I was abroad, which worked a treat, but as soon as I got back from the US, the rash reappeared.

I spoke to my father (a paediatrician) who got really worried and ordered me to do a string of blood tests, half of which I didn’t even know existed! My registrar and another dermatology registrar suggested various things, treatments, referrals but no specific diagnosis

Bed Bugs Is Not A Problem Anymore

How to Find Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Behavior and Habit

Understanding the behavior of bed bugs (how they eat, live, and reproduce) will help you to find an infestation before it becomes established and to monitor for the presence of bed bugs after your home has been treated.

Feeding:

  • Appear to prefer to feed on humans, but will feed on other mammals and birds as well.
  • Will readily travel 5-20 feet from established hiding places (called harborage) to feed on a host.
  • Even though they are primarily active at night, if hungry they will seek hosts in full daylight.
  • Feeding can take 3-12 minutes.
  • The rusty or tarry spots found on bed sheets or in bug hiding places are because 20% of the time adults and large nymphs will void remains of earlier blood meals while still feeding.

 

Bedbugs

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

 

How to Check for Bedbugs

Investigate piles of clothes. Look at the clothes in your closet or laundry room and look at the fabric for signs of bed bugs. If you suspect a severe infestation, lay a white sheet on the floor. Then take clothes out of baskets or the closet and shake them over the sheet. Check the sheet for bed bugs, excrement, or eggs.

Peel back loose wallpaper and look behind it. Gently pull loose wallpaper or peeling paint away from the wall and look for bed bugs. You should also remove any picture frames or mirrors and check behind them. Bed bugs can hide in the joints of mirrors or frames.

Lift up rugs to look for bed bugs underneath. Move furniture to the edge of the room so you can peel back rugs. Look for signs of bed bugs on the underside of the rug and on the floor itself.

Look under lamps, toys, or clocks in the room. Although bed bugs usually prefer to hide where people rest for long periods of time, they’ll also hide around objects in your room. Check under lamps, clocks, laptops, toys, cushions, and pillows.

Inspect hiding places in electrical items. If the room is heavily infested with bed bugs, they may hide in the crevices around electrical items. Remove electrical outlet covers and look behind them. You should also check near lamp or computer cords and inside wall-mounted lamps.

 

How To Check for Bed Bugs: Common Hiding Spots and Signs

Catching Bed Bugs in their Hiding Spots

Earlier, we discussed how to tell if you have bed bugs based on their hiding spots. So how do you catch them? Since bed bugs are afraid of the light, they are difficult to eliminate since they dwell in dark areas. You need to carefully search every darkened corner of your home to catch them.

How to Properly Remove Bed Bugs from Fabrics?

You can instantly remove any bedbugs from fabric using the same method that you use to inspect your mattress and bedding. When considering how to tell if you have bed bugs, keep in mind that although bed bugs don’t have the ability to jump or fly, they are fast travelers. Usually, they crawl onto people’s clothes and attach until they find potential bedding to infest.

Examining Bed Bugs on Mattresses

Once bedbugs are satisfied with their meal, they go back to their protected space until they are ready to feed again. The major feeding areas for bedbugs are mattresses straps, buttons, creases, and tags. When looking for how to find bed bugs, take note that these areas are convenient since as it is where they can easily locate and attach to their victims.

Checking Bed Bugs: Bedding

If there’s one thing that bedbugs despise, it’s light. That’s why they always strike during the night when their victim is fast asleep in an infested bed. It is impossible to catch living bed bugs in your bedding. However, when figuring out how to check for bed bugs, there are signs that will tell you if they are feeding on your skin. These signs include the following.

Checking for Bed Bugs: Bites

Bed bugs bite into a human by inserting two tubes into its skin. One tube secretes saliva that makes the bite area numb. This also thins the blood, so it’s easier for the bug to consume it. The second tube is known as the feeding tube and is utilized for one purpose only; sipping the blood from the human.

 

How to Find Bed Bugs

Commercial and Multi-Unit Buildings

Bug control in commercial facilities or multi-unit dwellings may be considerably more expensive than treatment for other forms of pests. This is because of the more extensive cooperation required by the staff or renters in preventing the spread from one area to the other, as well as the expenses incurred in treating multiple areas instead of one room or single-family home.

The Costs of Prevention and Treatment

These bugs can be expensive pests to control and treat. Regardless of the costs to homeowners, renters and property managers, they also extract a considerable toll on society. Those afflicted with an invasion may lose work or productivity due to sleep deprivation and anxiety. There may be healthcare costs from these issues, or from allergic reactions or infections due to bites.

Monitors

Monitoring devices that attract bugs through heat and the release of carbon dioxide may also be employed. These are not traps that are intended to eradicate the bugs. They are used to estimate population size, to help determine treatment plans or to determine if treatment has been successful.

Pesticides

Judicious use of approved pesticides is part of a professional treatment plan, and these chemicals can be applied with precision and training unavailable to unlicensed applicators.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming is also part of a professional control treatment, using special machines outfitted with HEPA filters which contain the bugs to prevent re-infestation of the treated area or others.

 

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